Final round: Mythbusting gubernatorial campaign claims
By Chad D. Baus & Jim Irvine
While it may seem that the events of the past week, involving misleading attacks against candidates endorsed by Buckeye Firearms Association, are something new and unprecedented, in fact we've seen it all before.
In 2004, a mailer was sent to voters in Senate District 24 attacking a Democrat candidate for his support of concealed carry. The mailer, paid for by the Ohio Republican Party, attacked the Democrat for a position which the majority of the party's caucus in both chambers of the General Assembly supported and voted for. Ohio gun owners rightly called the ORP to account for its partisan hypocrisy.
In 2008, political mailers were sent to voters in House District 72, attacking a Republican candidate for his support of Ohio's Castle Doctrine bill. The mailer, paid for by the Ohio Democrat Party, attacked the Republican for a position which the majority of the party's caucus in the House supported and voted for. Buckeye Firearms Association rightly called the ODP to account for its partisan hypocrisy.
And so, in 2010, we once again find ourselves on the eve of yet another election in which pro-gun voters look to play a decisive roll. And once again, in the final days of the campaign, misleading messages have surfaced attacking our endorsees. We must and have responded to defend our endorsees, just as we've done in the past. (See here and here and here and here and here.)
The main thrust of attacks against the pro-gun record of our endorsee, Governor Ted Strickland, and attempts to prop up his opponent John Kasich's weak gun rights record, focus on the perpetuation of three myths.
Myth #1 - 'It was only ONE (terrible) vote to ban guns'
The first myth perpetuated by those working to prop up Kasich on the gun issue has been to downplay the full extent of his anti-gun voting record.
Consider the following email from State Rep. Seth Morgan (R-36), distributed last Friday evening.
"Say what you want about John Kasich-and I don't like his vote in 1994 for the assault weapons ban anymore than you do-but he has a pretty decent gun record since then.
That "pretty decent gun record" Morgan is talking about included the following votes:
- Against stopping the harassment of law-abiding gun owners by the BATFE in 1995
- Against repeal of the Clinton/ Schumer Gun Ban in 1996
- Against big game hunting in 1997
- For restricting gun shows and increasing background checks aimed at closing down gun shows in 1999
- Against abolishing the DC Gun Ban (also in 1999)
When, other than election eve, would a pro-gun Republican ever consider that to be a "pretty decent gun record?"
And of course those were just the votes that came after his infamous 1994 vote and advocacy for the Clinton/Schumer Gun Ban, which earned him the NRA's F rating. Previous to that "pretty decent gun record" from the mid-late '90's, Kasich had also voted for handgun restrictions in 1986, and for a ban on deer hunting in 1992.
Myth #2 - A truly pro-gun politician would never come to the aid of, or accept help from, one that is not.
The second myth perpetuated by those seeking to convince gun owners to vote for John Kasich is that because Ted Strickland openly accepts help from and supports the likes of Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, they claim he cannot truly be pro-gun.
Consider again Morgan's email:
Ted Strickland says he supports gun owners' rights but then turns around and supports politicians who don't.
We've already dealt extensively with this flawed argument as it relates to our endorsement process. But let us, for a moment, accept the premise, and apply it to...Mr. Kasich.
Kasich once supported the candidacy of Bob Taft for Ohio Governor. Buckeye State gun owners will long remember the anquish Taft gave them during the fight to obtain a concealed carry law here. During this campaign season, Kasich has appeared at campaign events and offered kind words for Mike DeWine, an extremely anti-gun former Senator who is now hoping voters will forget why they threw him out of office just four years ago and elect him state attorney general. Kasich campaigned just last week with retiring Senator George Voinovich, who as Ohio governor once worked with his Lt. Governor (ol' Mike DeWine again) and the Republican Speaker of the House, Jo Ann Davidson, to kill a concealed carry bill in the late 1990s, and who more recently voted against a bill that would have afforded nationwide reciprocity for concealed carry license-holders.
Should we also judge John Kasich by the company he keeps? Or, for that matter, Seth Morgan? Of course not.
There is no politician, anywhere, who would be immune from the swinging axe if this was a standard. We judge candidates and elected officials by their actions, not by their associates. This policy benefits Republicans and Democrats alike, because at times, much as Morgan is doing via his email, politicians in both parties are tasked with supporting a candidate "for the good of the party," whether or not they agree with the candidate on every single issue.
Myth #3 - Strickland is to blame for there having been no pro-gun legislation in the past two years.
The third myth perpetuated by those seeking to convince gun owners to vote for John Kasich is that if Strickland were truly as pro-gun as he claims (and, they don't bother to mention, as his record proves that he is), then legislation would have been passed and sent to his desk by House Democrats during the past two years.
Again, from Mr. Morgan:
...[S]ince the beginning of 2009 when Democrats took over the Ohio House of Representatives with the help of Ted Strickland, not one pro-Second Amendment bill has hit his desk.
This argument has, before Morgan's email and to our knowledge, appeared only in discusions via online forums, Facebook commentaries, etc., and even though it comes from a friend who is a former A rated endorsee of this PAC, it begs a closer look.
The fact is, improvements were made to Ohio's concealed carry law in the bi-annual budget passed in July of 2009. This was the earliest in a legislative session any improvements to firearms laws were sent to the Governor's desk in the history of this PAC.
Again from Mr. Morgan:
Strickland might be willing to sign a pro-gun piece of legislation - if it hits his desk; but if he gets his way, the legislation won't ever hit his desk.
Morgan goes on to mention pro-gun legislation that has been introduced in the House this session, including an Alaska-style concealed carry reform bill that he has co-sponsored. What he does not mention is that a nearly identical bill was also introduced in the session previous to his election, and that substantially similar bills were also introduced in 2004 and 2005 - all years when Republicans controlled the House and the Senate. Yet the bills never went anywhere.
Should Strickland, who wasn't even governor when the first two versions were introduced, be held to account for the failure of those bills as well? Or, more appropriately, should Morgan ask the Republicans to explain why they didn't move an Alaska-style bill while they were in charge?
Another piece of legislation that has been under consideration in this General Assembly has been a proposal to allow concealed carry in restaurants where alcohol is served. It has been suggested that Strickland should be held to account for a bill not yet having been passed in the Democrat-controlled House.
We hate to air dirty laundry, but we simply cannot let this go unchallenged. The reason that Governor Strickland has not received a restaurant carry bill on his desk yet this session is because Senate Republicans did not keep their word to move legislation in a timely manner. Not only did the Republican-controlled Senate fail to pass a good gun bill in all of 2009, they couldn't even agree on enough of the wording to get a bill introduced! SB239 and SB247 were finally introduced earlier this year, one by a Republican and one by a Democrat. Senate Republican leadership didn't bring those bills forward for a floor vote until the last week of session. That left Democrats in the House no time to consider the bills. Clearly, this is not Governor Strickland's fault.
When it comes to the issue of gun rights, Buckeye Firearms Association takes its endorsement process with utmost seriousness. When our endorsees are attacked for their pro-gun positions by anti-gun candidates or organizations, we will defend them. When it is suggested that they have something other than the pro-gun record which earned them our endorsement, we will set the record straight. And we will do so regardless of what party, or what candidate, the false charges are coming from.
To many, it often seems that election season brings the worse out in people. Perhaps it does. Campaigns are always hard fought, and this year has been no different. But after it is over, there will be an even stronger, bi-partisan pro-gun majority in the legislature. And perhaps, just perhaps, they will be ready to act with a greater understanding that pro-gun voters expect more than just words during a campaign season - they expect action.
Jim Irvine is the Buckeye Firearms Association Chairman. Chad D. Baus is the Buckeye Firearms Association Vice Chairman.